When handling automobile accident cases in Maryland, and even more so the cases I handle in and around Elkton, Maryland, I am often asked by my clients why we would be making a claim with their insurance company. Understandably, many of my clients are apprehensive about this, confused, or otherwise gun shy about calling their insurance company for anything. What a great fear that has been created by insurance companies and media that making a claim of any kind will make your rates skyrocket!
In some instances, claims against your policy can and will make your rates go up. In many instances, however, they will not and can not. One example of a claim that we often file for our clients in their cases is a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Claim. PIP is a no-fault type benefit that is on your policy, and is in place to protect you if you are in any accident of any kind and are injured and/or lose time from work. I try not to bore my readers to death with citations of law on this blog, but since this is such a sensitive topic, I feel the need to provide at least one link to where the Maryland Annotated Code actually says what I say it says. Check out § 19-507(c) of the Maryland Insurance Article, which states:
“An insurer that issues a policy that contains the coverage described in § 19-505 of this subtitle may not impose a surcharge for a claim or payment made under that coverage and, at the time the policy is issued, shall notify the policyholder in writing that a surcharge may not be imposed for a claim or payment made under that coverage.”
This is the law in Maryland. If you’re making a PIP claim, your insurance company cannot raise you to a different risk tier or issue a surcharge. Reading the entire subtitle of section c you will see that the insurance company must also notify you in writing that they can not and will not do this to you. If you read your insurance policy, you’ll find a line in there that tells you this. It’s probably somewhere around page 23 or 24. (I made that page number thing up, but if I happen to be right, let me know and we’ll share a laugh).
There are other scenarios in which filing a claim with your insurance company can be beneficial to you. These come in situations such as hit & run accidents, or otherwise in scenarios where you lack information on the other party or parties involved in the claim. I’ll be sure to write on these topics throughout the coming weeks, so check back for more information about when it’s OK to make a claim with your own insurance company.
Of course, if you’ve been injured in an accident, call my office immediately at 410-885-6200 to discuss the options you may have and recoveries you may be entitled to. We’re available to answer questions whether you’re a client or not. Even if you don’t have a case we’d take on, I’d be honored to give you a few minutes of my time to discuss your situation, your insurance, and anything else that may be on your mind.